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Palm Coast Monday, May 15, 2017 1 year ago

County prepares to adjust voting precinct boundaries

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The changes will relieve crowding at the county's larger voting precincts.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Flagler County Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart is preparing to adjust the boundaries of some of the county's voting precincts to relieve crowding at the more populous ones and prepare for future growth.

The plan will involve adding two new precincts, each of which is expected to coast about $11,900 in staffing and equipment.

"The timing is very important," Lenhart told county commissioners at a commission workshop May 15. "We need to do this in 2017 instead of right before an election."

There are two ways to relieve crowding at precincts, Lenhart said: shifting boundaries to move some residents from a heavily-populated precinct into a less populated precinct; and adding a new precinct. Lenhart's plan does a bit of both, without sending voters too far from their current polling places.

"The idea is to not direct voters too far away from where they’re expecting to go," she said. 

County Commissioner Charlie Ericksen asked Lenhart why the overcrowding couldn't be reduced by adding eary voting days.

That's not possible, Lenhart replied, because the county already uses all of the early voting days allowed by law excerpt for the Sunday before Election Day. The Supervisor of Elections Office needs that final Sunday to prepare for Election Day.

There wasn't much opposition voiced to the proposed adjustment. Robert Updegrave, the membership chairman of the Flagler County Republican Executive Committee, said the Republican Party might benefit from some time to prepare for the changes, which will probably mean that it will lose some precinct captains. 

The commission considered delaying the process 30 days to give the parties an opportunity to meet and prepare for the changes. But Updegrave thought better of his request, and suggested that the proposed 30 days probably wouldn't make enough of a difference for the party to make it worth holding up the Supervisor of Elections Office's initiative.

"It is not the party’s intention to slow this down," he said. "Run with it, inasmuch as nothing is going to change a month from now. I believe it’s something we’re going to have to deal with as a party. The other party is going to have to deal with it as well, and let the chips fall as they may."

Commissioner Charlie Ericksen said he'd like to hear that same message from the Democratic Executive Committee before voting to move forward without a delay. All of the members of the County Commission are Republican.

The commission decided at its meeting at 5 p.m. May 15 to delay a vote on the proposed precinct changes until June 19.

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